There’s a customer story behind every statistic

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Get your processes in place, and then you can truly take
advantage of CRM.


It was the theme we kept hearing again and again at the CRM
Evolution Conference in New York City earlier this year. If you’re going to compete, you have to
move beyond just operationalizing your process.


One way to truly improve processes is with more and more
analytics. Each analytic has a story behind it. Why is a certain statistic
going up or down or not changing at all? There’s a reason for that. And what
you’re ultimately trying to do is connect those stories to customers, explains Aaron Cano, VP of Marketing, Operations, and Planning for

FreshDirect
, an online grocery store for
fresh produce delivered to your door.

Watch our interview with Cano for more insight on how to
uncover those stories!

Can a cloud-based CRM system reduce “technical debt” of constant upgrading?

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Do you ever get bogged down by your software? Is the management
of the software itself becoming more taxing than actually using it for its
purchased intention?


At the CRM Evolution Conference in New York City, I got a
chance to chat with Alex Eldridge, Director of Project Management for

SofterWare

who has been taxed with the project
of finding a new CRM solution for the company. They are currently using the
desktop-based CRM/contact management solution, Goldmine.


I chatted with Eldridge about his process of what he is
looking for in a CRM solution. He boiled it all down to these four criteria:








  • Reduced complexity
    :
    Systems are currently too difficult to manage. There is a major technical debt
    of upgrading systems.








  • Less burdersome change
    management
    : Changes in browsers and operating systems have become a source
    of failure.








  • Less specialized
    knowledge
    : Instead of locking the understanding of a system into a few
    people’s heads, Eldridge is looking for simpler systems for which development
    can be extended to the end users. He wants them to be empowered to do more on
    their own.





  • Improved quality of data
    :
    Does not want data in different formats where they are out of alignment. Looking to
    create greater synchronicity on data.

If C-L-O-U-D were an acronym, what would it stand for?

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We asked. You answered. Most interesting responses from Facebook and 



Twitter
:




“Collaborate Live On Unsurpassed Development”
Mark Brutus Thurman




“Computing Leveraged Online for Users Devices”
WireSpeed Systems






“Computing Levitated Out of yoUr Desktop





Emil Chackot






“Computer Located OUtside Datacenter”
@skipbogsan




“Come-Lets-Organize-Upload-Distribute / Download” 
@warriorvibhu






And the funniest of them all…


“Children Like Oranges Upside Down”
Jack Kerr








Got any other interesting answers to contribute?  Leave us a comment here.

Three successful techniques to engage “one-on-one” with visitors of your content

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You’ve got tons of content, and people are consuming it, but
you’re not talking to them at the point of consumption, which would be the best
time to launch them through your sales pipeline.


At the CRM Evolution Conference in New York City, I chatted
with Kate Leggett, a Senior Analyst with

Forrester
.
She covers the area of customer service and call center processes serving
business process professionals.


In our interview, Leggett offered three techniques for
connecting readers of your content with your CRM system:










  1. Authenticate site access
    :
    If you require people to log in to get access to your content, you can see from
    their session history the pieces of content they looked at and interacted with.









  2. Pushing a chat box
    :
    If you don’t have someone logged in, you’re going to have to reach out to
    connect. If they delay on a content page push a chat box notification and ask
    if they have any questions.




  3. Make contact really easy
    :
    Around every piece of content, make connecting via phone, email, or chat
    extremely easy and encouraged.

Today, SMBs don’t need a dedicated anything to deploy CRM

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Three or four years ago SMBs were apprehensive with CRM,
said Brent Leary, co-founder and partner of CRM
Essentials
.

CRM was comprehensive and complex and it required someone
who could manage servers and software upgrades. SMBs rarely could afford a
dedicated IT expert to install and manage these services. Today it’s far more
accessible and affordable, said Leary.

In addition, traditional CRM was originally seen as needed
for operational reasons, not necessarily to get new customers, Leary mentioned.
With the introduction of social CRM, SMBs are becoming far more interested.

The Product Business is Like the Movie Business

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I read the cover story in Forbes on the success of Dropbox, which is set to do about $240 million in sales in 2011, with only 70 employees. As Forbes points out, that is about 3x the revenue per employee of Google, which is no slouch in the revenue per employee department itself. First, congratulations, Dropbox! This is the type of breathtaking number that makes the ordinarily successful companies like, well, Zoho, to wonder “What are we doing wrong?”

In our 15 year history in Zoho Corporation – which is bigger than the Zoho product suite itself – we have shipped over 70 products, of which we would say about 30 have been successful in the sense of being nicely profitable. Yet, even with that group of 30 products, we have seen the 10x effect: a set of two products that have taken approximately the same amount of effort to build, by similarly situated teams, yet one of them does 10x the sales of the other, with both of them being profitable. Of course the 10-bagger is much more profitable but the key point is that both of them could be counted as successful in the sense of being profitable. We have even seen 100x difference for approximately the same effort, but in our case, that is the difference between doing only $100K a year in sales vs $10 million a year, and I would not count that as 100x because the $100K product either grows up or we would eventually discontinue it because it is not profitable.

Dropbox is a logical extension of this phenomenon, where a product does 100x the sales, without taking much more by way of engineering effort than a profitable 1x product. And then the grand daddy of them all – Google search, which in its heyday reached $1 billion in sales, on not much more than the effort of a single engineering team – the headcount gets added later to diversify the company but the original search was a small team. I believe there has only been one Google search so far, so the ordinarily successful (ahem!) shouldn’t feel too bad.

Y Combinator, which has funded over 300 companies so far, is a perfect illustration. All these teams are similarly situated, with similar founder profiles and they all get similar initial funding, and they spend similar initial effort. If we consider only the universe of profitable YC companies, my guess is that so far there is only one 100-bagger i.e Dropbox, in the YC portfolio. Based on Zoho experience, I would estimate YC has about ten 10-baggers, and about fifty one-baggers (i.e just about profitable).

Welcome to the product business, which looks very much like the movie business!

Email isn’t a productivity killer unless…

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As with every other productivity tool, what really matters with email is how you use it. If email is draining your work productivity, it’s probably because you’re doing one or more of these:


  1. you make it the aim of your workday to achieve Zero-Inbox status.

    Let’s face it: the more email you send, the more you’ll receive. Set aside some time daily to respond to selective emails that are urgent and important. Mark the rest for

    later follow up
    .

  2. you believe email is real-time.

    It isn’t. And doesn’t need to be instantly responded to. If you need

    (and only if you need!)

    to initiate a real-time conversation, use IM, or make a phone call. Or even better, make it a face-to-face conversation, if that’s possible.

  3. you believe in the ‘a folder for every email and every email into a folder’ rule.

    Heard of

    Email OCD
    ? If you’re spending a lot of time just moving your mail into folders, you’re wasting valuable time that could be spent on other important tasks. Instead,

    make automated rules
     for emails that absolutely must be organized into folders. Leave the rest in your inbox.

  4. you need to hunt for emails manually, one folder at a time.

    Every time you have to look for that all-important email that suddenly needs to be referred to,

    use an advanced search feature
     to fish it out. Not only will this save you search time, it will minimize your dependency on folder-organization too (see the point above)

  5. you use the ‘reply-all’ function for every email.

    Before you use ‘reply-all’ and reply to everyone who is marked on an email, think about whether your reply will be relevant and / useful for all the intended recipients. If not, mark the email to only those who will benefit from reading it. It’s good email etiquette and saves everybody (including you!) a whole lot of time.

  6. you use email for debates and discussions.

    A more productive way to encourage ideas, discussions and brainstorms within your team(s) and / customers is to use an internal discussion forum. At Zoho, we use

    Zoho Discussions
     for all such “discussions”.

  7. you only send / check your email at the desk.

    Being able to check email on your mobile device is a necessary evil. You can spend time outside your office, meeting your customers and prospects, and yet, still find time to

    check email while you’re on the move
    . Remember to do this judiciously though, for not all email needs to be read / responded to.

  8. you check email during face-to face / telephonic interactions with people.

    Avoid doing this at all costs. For one, it’s rude. Also, you miss out on important conversations and the chance to make an impact on your audience.

Are there any other email-productivity-killing-habits that you can add to this list? Which email habit are you going to change today?